"Colorado is the first, but it certainly won't be the last, state to treat cannabis as a legal, adult retail product"
Denver, CO: Dozens of state and locally licensed cannabis retailers opened for business on Wednesday, engaging in thousands of retail transactions with customers age 21 and older.
The sales are in compliance with newly enacted state regulations allowing for the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. In past weeks, state regulators have approved over 300 businesses to engage in marijuana commerce. Several dozens of those enterprises opened their doors on Wednesday while dozens more are expected to begin operating within the coming weeks.
NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre called the day's events "historic." He said: "For the first time in modern history, a state is regulating cannabis as a legal commodity in a manner similar to alcohol. Colorado is the first, but it certainly won't be the last, state to treat cannabis as a legal, adult retail product rather than as a prohibited, criminalized substance. The genie is out of the bottle and it isn't going back in."
Under Colorado law, adults may legally possesses and grow limited quantities of cannabis. Licensed commercial retailers may also cultivate, produce, and sell cannabis and cannabis-infused products. Local municipalities, in additional to state regulators, must sign off on the operation of marijuana businesses. Fifty-five percent of state voters in November 2012 approved ballot language authorizing adults to possess, grow, and commercially sell cannabis.
In August, Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a three-page memorandum affirming that the Justice Department would not interfere in the state's efforts to regulate cannabis sales, provided that those regulations limit the substance's availability to children and do not allow for the diversion of cannabis to states that have not legalized its use.
In-state residents may purchase up to one ounce of cannabis. Out-of-state customers are limited to purchasing no more than one-quarter ounce of cannabis per retail transaction. Retail cannabis sales are subject to state sales tax in additional to a cannabis-specific 25 percent 'sin' tax. Transactions involving the purchase of medicinal cannabis by state-qualified patients are not subject to similar taxation. Public consumption of cannabis is subject to a civil fine.
Further details on existing Colorado laws and regulations specific to cannabis industry practices are available online from the Colorado Department of Revenue @ https://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Rev-MMJ/CBON/1251592984795
Similar regulations governing state-licensed cannabis production and sales are anticipated to begin in Washington in coming months.
Study: Cannabis Often Consumed As A Substitute For Other Licit And Illicit Substances
Victoria, Canada: A majority of medical cannabis consumers report using the plant as a substitute for prescription drugs, alcohol, or some other illicit substance, according to survey data published in the October issue of Addiction Research and Theory.
An international team of investigators from Canada and the United States assessed the subjective impact of marijuana on the use of licit and illicit substances via self-report in a cohort of 404 medical cannabis patients recruited from four dispensaries in British Columbia, Canada.
Researchers reported that subjects frequently substituted cannabis for other substances, including conventional pharmaceuticals, finding: "Over 41 percent state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (n=158), 36.1 percent use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances (n=137), and 67.8 percent use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (n=259). The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are 'less withdrawal' (67.7 percent), 'fewer side-effects' (60.4 percent), and 'better symptom management' suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen."
Overall, 75.5 percent (n=305) of respondents said that they substitute cannabis for at least one other substance. Men were more likely than women to report substituting cannabis for alcohol or illicit drugs.
Authors concluded: "While some studies have found that a small percentage of the general population that uses cannabis may develop a dependence on this substance, a growing body of research on cannabis-related substitution suggests that for many patients cannabis is not only an effective medicine, but also a potential exit drug to problematic substance use. Given the credible biological, social and psychological mechanisms behind these results, and the associated potential to decrease personal suffering and the personal and social costs associated with addiction, further research appears to be justified on both economic and ethical grounds. Clinical trials with those who have had poor outcomes with conventional psychological or pharmacological addiction therapies could be a good starting point to further our understanding of cannabis-based substitution effect."
Full text of the study, "Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients," appears in Addiction Research and Theory.